Loved it

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First up, I read this in paper format, not ebook like I usually do. This basically means it took me forever to read it, since I don’t like taking my books everywhere. I love reading physical books, but ebooks are a lot more portable. I can keep them all on my phone and be guaranteed to always have all my ebooks with me, unlike physical books. I kind of wish I’d caved and read this in ebook format, but on the other hand, it was nice to take my time with a book for once.

The TLDR of my review:

It’s only February but I can pretty much guarantee you that this is my favorite read of the year. I can tell the author really knew what she was doing with every single scene. She does not waste words on anything. Every single word has a purpose, which was to rip my heart out and then proceed to cut it into tiny pieces. If book 2 doesn’t hastily tape it back together then destroy it again, I will go insane.

There are two strengths to this book. Characters and politics.

Our two main characters are Lee and Annie. Annie is from a low class family, and they’re all dead, thanks to the old government being absolute shit. Lee is from the old government’s ruling family, but he supports the new government which is much better.

The old government was overthrown, because they used their dragons to stay in power, even though it hurt the people. Whenever the author revealed more of the history of the rebellion or showed us a glimpse of the corruption of the old government, I could really understand how all the main characters are so traumatized by their past and want to change the world so the future will be better.

Annie has been through a lot, and despite getting a chance to have her own dragon and be a top commander in the army, she still can’t help but see herself as the little orphan girl whose family was murdered. She’s afraid that she won’t be good enough, but she knows that because of her past, she has a good sense on what needs to change to fix the world.

Lee saw the same events from the opposite side. His family was the one causing harm. He watched his father do horrible things and was told it was normal. Now his name has been changed, his past scrubbed away so he can make a fresh start. Lee has to figure out how to be a good leader without turning into his dad, all while keeping his family history a secret.

Annie and Lee ended up at the same orphanage when they were kids, which is how they know each other. The way Rosaria Munda is able to weave their stories together and create such conflict between them, despite them being on the same side of the war is absolutely stunning. They’re friends, but they don’t always get along. It’s a very complicated relationship, because they both sort of know that they come from opposite sides of the war.

I don’t know how Rosaria Munda did it, but every single character in this book is morally grey in a perfect way. They all have to make decisions they don’t like for the greater good, and have to navigate a political world that is as complicated as it can possibly get. Considering the author has a political science degree from Princeton, it’s not surprising that she’s so good at political writing.

Every single page I felt like I couldn’t put it down, until something would happen that would shatter my heart and I couldn’t bear to look at it anymore. It’s not all sad or tragic, I mean, there’s an epic dragon tournament that is totally badass. But still, it’s just one of those books where none of the decisions are easy or pleasant. The main characters have to choose between the lesser of two evils most of the time, and I’m pretty sure I cried at every one of those choices.

This book does not pull punches. The old government did some horrible things. If the dragons burned a family home to the ground, we see it from both sides so we can cry twice. This book has done huge amounts of psychological damage to my soul and I’m happy about it. How is that possible? Hell if I know. It’s just that good.

I think it’ll probably take me a good year or so to recover from this one. I’ve had bad book hangovers before, but this one takes the cake. I am about to plunge into book 2, and then wait until August 9 for book 3 and die inside the whole summer while it’s not out. I will absolutely not survive until then, I guarantee it.

I’m also dying from waiting for Nona the Ninth, but this is a fresh wound. This is raw and bleeding. I need more of these characters and this world, NOW. I am impatient and no one can console me. I might just eat too much chocolate and do nothing except read book 2 over the weekend. That is, if I don’t binge book 2 tonight and tomorrow.

I highly recommend this to any and all fantasy fans. This is technically YA, but I can see adult fantasy fans loving this. It’s beautifully heartbreaking in all the ways that make you feel happy to have died inside. It’s so perfect that I have no words besides to go read this.

I also recommend this to Arcane fans. This reminded me so much of the way Arcane handles its characters and conflict. Just the way the characters develop and learn who they are and who they’ll have to be to be good leaders and what they stand for. It’s like Arcane but with dragons.


🐉🐉🐉🐉🐉 DRAGONS 🐉🐉🐉🐉🐉

Ok so there are 3 breeds of dragon: Aurelian, Stormscourge, and Skyfish. I honestly do not remember the differences besides that the Stormscourge are bigger because I forget everything that isn’t absolutely necessary to understanding the plot.

Here’s what I love about them. You can get super emotionally close with your dragon. But sometimes that results in what’s called a spillover. This means that you can feel each other’s emotions, but you have a lot less control unless you practice that way. The connection that the characters form with their dragons is so sweet, and if they choose to practice spillovers, they can really understand their dragon. I think it would be absolutely amazing if they all learned how to deal with spillovers and train like that. It’s like being in the head of a dragon. I’d love to see into the head of a dragon. That sounds fantastic. When can I sign up for the war? I want a dragon.

That’s the end of the review. Mostly because I need to start book 2 before I get too sleepy and can’t read any of it. But also because I have too many spoiler thoughts and I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything. If I keep typing I know that will happen.